Independent Music in Film

Independent Music in Film
By Logan Lenz

In today’s technologically driven world, independent musicians have an infinite number of outlets to display and promote their music. Now that websites like MySpace, Purevolume, and Virb (just to name a few) exist, independent artists have been given the opportunity to “level the playing field” with those prestigious radio guys. The problem, however, lies in the fact that the endless amount of DIY work far outweighs any successful return. So, how can independent musicians gain recognition and popularity without having to deal with the over-saturated world of online promotion? The answer lies in one word: “licensing.”

Within the last few years, independent artists have been glorified on film, television, and commercials more than ever before. Teenage-based TV shows such as Laguna Beach and One Tree Hill have stood in the forefront as the shows to watch to hear some of the best “undiscovered” music every week. Television commercials have taken the notion a step further, by utilizing the most obscure and abstract tunes that leave the viewer wondering what in the world they are listening to. Independent films, although not playing as much of a prominent role, have also been a major launching point for several independent artists. Damien Rice earned instant success and a record deal after the 2004 Mike Nichols film Closer glorified the track “The Blower’s Daughter” in the trailer and the film. Another impressive example was the use of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” during a season finale episode of The O.C.

So, how does this process work? How can independent films play a bigger role in the support of independent music? Well, the potential lies in the budget of the film. Independent films are generally projects with smaller budgets than the expensive blockbuster pictures. This fact alone gives the independent film the advantage to be the project that partners with some deserving undiscovered musicians. After hiring a music supervisor, the individual in charge of finding, choosing, and negotiating license deals for all of the necessary tunes, the production company will only allocate a certain amount of money for the movie’s melodic audio features. With this being said, it is now the supervisor’s job to hunt down eligible artists (Artists that have deals with publishing companies) for the lowest cost possible. Similar to any business, the more popular and in-demand a song is, the more expensive it will be. So, instead of choosing Beastie Boys’ “Girls,” the supervisor may be forced to license Johnny Nobody’s “Women.”

Obviously, the process involves a great deal of contracts and numbers, but in the end the supervisor obtains the rights to use these unfamiliar and inexpensive songs in the movie. Although it may be said that the process is a “Catch 22” (A band can’t be licensed until they have a licensing deal with a company), licensing material to these outlets have proven to be one of the easiest and most rewarding elements of income for musicians. Not only is the band given a chance to share their music with the world, they are also getting paid for it. In this way, licensing have opened new doors for every aspiring independent musician and has ultimately given them the chance to DIY for the rest of their successful careers. Independent films will forever have the opportunity to continue shifting the music industry away from the larger record companies.

One thought on “Independent Music in Film”

  1. hat is great info Logan. Actually a good read. Quick tip, try to link to all the people and sites that you mention in bold. It will increase readers and visibility. Nice read though buddy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *